DEAR REV. GRAHAM: I've always believed in God, but some people I know are always talking about having a personal relationship with God, and I'm not sure what they mean. Is this different from just believing in God? —E. M.
Dear E.M.: Yes, it can be — because simply believing that God exists, or even that He cares about us, isn't the same as knowing Him as our friend.
Let me use a human example to illustrate this. I notice from your letter that you are married. At one time, you probably didn't know your future husband even existed — much less what he was like. But then you heard about him, or perhaps saw him for the first time — and from that moment on you believed he actually existed. But did you know him and have a close personal relationship with him? No; that took time, and eventually it took the form of a personal commitment — the commitment of marriage.
This is similar to our relationship with God.